U.N. Drafting Resolution Against North Korea; Pyongyang Threatens South Korea
The U.N. Security Council says it needs “some time” to finalize a resolution sanctioning North Korea for its latest nuclear and ballistic missile tests.
The Security Council is meeting in the wake of the recent provactive actions by Pyongyang.
North Korea fired off another missile on Wednesday, one day after reportedly launching two short-range missiles.
And North Korea tested a nuclear device on Monday which was stronger than Pyongyang’s previous nuclear test in 2006.
The tests triggered criticism from around the world, especially in Western countries.
The Security Council began to discuss the anti-Pyongyang draft resolution on Tuesday.
“Our discussions and our deliberations will indeed take some time,” Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said after the meeting.
The U.N. Security Council at an emergency session has unanimously condemned North Korea’s underground nuclear test carried out early on Monday. (2:49):
Once the stockpiles of the largest nuclear powers get smaller and smaller, we can begin to deal with nuclear disarmament for the world at large, says Peter Crail, a research analyst for the Arms Control Association. (5:32):
North Korea has threatened a military response to South Korea’s joining the international anti-proliferation programme. Pyongyang said it considers Seouls action a provocation equivalent to a declaration of war. (2:45):
Also, Pyongyang said it is no longer bound by the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War.
North Korea has threatened military action against U.S. and South Korean warships in the waters near the disputed Korean maritime border, raising the specter of a naval clash just days after the regime’s underground nuclear test, AP reports.
Pyongyang, reacting angrily to Seoul’s decision to join an international program to intercept ships suspected of aiding nuclear proliferation, called the move tantamount to a declaration of war.
The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement carried by state media that the North is “compelled to take a decisive measure” against South Korea. South Korea’s military said Wednesday it’s prepared to “respond sternly” to any North Korean provocation.
Seoul announced it was going to join The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) on Tuesday, after North Korea carried out an underground nuclear test. The deal drawn up by the US in 2003 is an international effort aimed at preventing the transfer of illegal weapons and weapons technology.
In a statement issued by its official news agency, North Korea said:
“As declared to the world, our revolutionary forces will consider the full participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative by [South Korean President] Lee Myung-bak’s group of traitors as a declaration of war against us.”
“Our military will no longer be bound by the armistice accord as the U.S. has drawn its puppets [South Korea] into the PSI.”
Meanwhile, members of the U.N. Security Council unanimously denounced North Korea’s actions as a great threat and promised a tough response.
“We share a common set of objectives, which are to convey very clearly and unequivocally that the actions by North Korea run counter to the interest of regional peace and security, violate international law, and need to be dealt with directly and seriously,” Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. said.
Yukio Takasu Japan’s Ambassador to the United Nations said that, despite all the warnings from the Security Council, “The DPRK went ahead with a second nuclear test after a missile launch in April.” He said this is a threat to security, including the security of Japan.
According to reports, North Korea has fired its fifth short-range missile in two days.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak have discussed the situation by telephone at the South Korean leaders initiative, the Kremlin reports.
“The parties…noted that the North Korean nuclear test is a direct violation of the U.N. SC Resolution 1718 and contradicts international legal norms,” the Kremlin added.
Also, it was said that both countries “intend to actively take part in working out a new U.N. Security Council resolution on North Korea and continuing close consultations with partners at the Six Party Talks on the Korean peninsula nuclear problem.”
Korea restarts nuclear plant
South Korean state news agency Yonhap, citing an unnamed “informed source”, said the North had restarted its nuclear reprocessing facility at Yongbyon in mid-April to produce plutonium.
The nuclear reactor at the facility was to be shut down under a deal reached at Six Party Talks in 2007. However, in response to the U.N. Security Council’s condemnation of a long-range missile launch on April 5 this year, Pyongyang said it would restart the facility.
The U.N. Security Council resolution 1718 bans any supplies, sales or transfer of conventional military equipment and armaments to North Korea, and any materials, equipment, products or technologies which could be used by the country in its is programmes to create weapons of mass destruction.
On Wednesday, Yonhap, citing the source, wrote, “the doors of the site where the North stores spent fuel rods were opened ‘several times’ in mid-April, and from late April, plumes of steam were detected at a reprocessing plant.”
“Since early May, we have continuously been seeing steam rising from the nuclear fuel fabrication plant,” the source is quoted as saying.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has named two basic principles that define Moscow’s position on a draft U.N. Security Council resolution.
“First, the Security Council must make a firm statement and work out measures that would effectively prevent further erosion of the non-proliferation regime. Second, in a resolution we must find a way to create conditions for resuming the Six Party Talks. We should not punish the DPRK simply for the sake of punishing it,” Lavrov said.
On Tuesday, following North Korea’s underground test, Moscow indefinitely postponed the meeting of the Russian-North Korean intergovernmental commission on economic and scientific cooperation.
Interfax agency, citing a source at the Russian Foreign Ministry, writes that Moscow believes a new U.N. Security Council resolution should contain sanctions.
“If the resolution is not under Chapter 7 [of the U.N. Charter, which deals with threats to peace], then in fact this will be a political declaration, because it will not be implemented,” a source is quoted as saying.
“Given the tough and unanimous reaction which this [nuclear] test aroused around the world and further actions, then of course one should not expect that this would cost just a light reprimand,” he said.
The source went on to say:
“In this case we should give a clear answer – otherwise the Security Council will lose force and respect.”
However, Sergey Mironov, the speaker of the upper chamber of Russia’s Federation Council, talking to journalists on Wednesday, said he believes the international community should stay calm and not hasten sanctions against North Korea.
“Of course, Pyongyang’s nuclear policy can’t be met with enthusiasm,” he said answering to Itar-Tass questions, noting that the tests took place “only 130 kilometers from our borders.”
Also, Itar-Tass quotes a Russian diplomat who said Moscow is concerned about the dangerous development of the situation on the Korean peninsula.
“The situation is anxious and tense. We believe that North Korea plays the brinkmanship game. We face ‘the war of nerves’ that may be turned into a hot war. Restraint is necessary,” the diplomat said.
Another source at the Foreign Ministry told Interfax that Russia doesn’t justify Pyongyang’s actions, but calls on the international community to take North Korean security concerns into consideration.
“North Korea has its rightful concerns, and we admit them. We can’t accept an approach when North Korea is seen as just a wrong country and nothing can be done about it. Whether you like it or not, North Korea is a sovereign state, a UN member and has its legal interests and concerns,” he is quoted.
Russia monitors situation on border with N. Korea
The Russian military have been monitoring the situation in the area bordering North Korea since Monday morning, according to the General Staff of Russia’s Armed Forces, quoted by Itar Tass news agency.
“The monitoring is carried out by units of various arms and services at the sites of their permanent location,” a General Staff official said.
If the situation changes it is to be reported to the General Staff immediately – especially if it may pose a threat to the Russian Far Eastern region.
However, he noted, no Russian military units have been either reinforced or moved closer to the border.
“Now that they have it, North Korea will never give up nuclear weapons,” says Pavel Leshakov, Head of Korean Studies at Moscow State University. (4:11):
“The U.S. imperialists and the traitor Lee Myung-Bak’s group have driven the situation on the Korean peninsula into a state of war,” the statement added
Cross-border ties have been icy since Lee, the South Korean president, took office in Seoul in February 2008 and declared Seoul would take a tougher stance with the North.
The warning from the North came as South Korea’s largest newspaper reported that the North had re-started its nuclear fuel reprocessing plant.
The Chosun Ilbo said U.S. spy satellites had spotted activity at the plant in Yongbyon, indicating that operations to produce weapons-grade plutonium had resumed.
“There are various indications that reprocessing facilities in Yongbyon resumed operation [and] have been detected by U.S. surveillance satellite, and these include steam coming out of the facility,” it quoted an unnamed government source as saying.
The North had previously agreed to dismantle Yongbyon under a breakthrough deal in 2007, but the follow-up agreements fell apart and the six-party talks that concluded the agreement have since stalled.
Al Jazeera’s Tony Cheng, reporting from Seoul, said the report of fresh activity at Yongbyon was credible given the North’s angry threat in April that it would resume work at the plant.
That came after North Korea fired a rocket that it said had placed a satellite into orbit in April, although the US said it believed the launch was a cover for a test of long-range missile technology.
These nuclear tests and missile firings are probably designed for internal consumption. The leadership is trying to satisfy the hard-liners in North Korea, Ivan Eland of the Independent Institute in Washington said. (4:55):
South Korea joins a U.S.-led initiative to block nuclear trade as U.N. meetings begin that could lead to new sanctions.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula rose further Tuesday as Seoul announced that it would join a U.S.-led initiative to curb nuclear trade, and North Korea reportedly test-launched three more short-range missiles….
A statement signed by ministers from more than 40 Asian and European countries urged the regime in Pyongyang to stop conducting nuclear tests and rejoin talks aimed at halting its nuclear program.
But South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that North Korea had conducted three more missile tests, making a total of five this week. The news agency quoted South Korean officials as saying that two missiles were launched early in the day and a third Tuesday night. >>>
The world is condemning North Korea’s testing of a nuclear warhead and missiles. But Pakistan is also adding to its nuclear arsenal amidst the threat of terrorism, and without any political criticism from the U.S. (3:38):
- Fallout Over North Korea Nuclear Test (26 May 09)